The Life and Adventures of Baron Trenck


Francis had revealed to him he should be removed into life everlasting on his birth-day at twelve o'clock. The capuchin was sent for, but the prediction laughed at.

The day, however, after the departure of his confessor, he said, "Praise be to God, my end approaches; my confessor is dead, and has appeared to me." Strange as it may seem; it was actually found to be true that the priest was dead. He now had all the officers of the garrison of Brunn assembled, tonsured his head like a capuchin, took the habit of the order, publicly confessed himself in a sermon of an hour's length, exhorted them all to holiness, acted the part of a most exemplary penitent, embraced all present, spoke with a smile of the insignificance of all earthly possessions, took his leave, knelt down to prayers, slept calmly, rose, prayed again, and about eleven in the forenoon, October 4th, taking his watch in his hand, said, "Thanks be to my God, my last hour approaches." All laughed at such a farce from a man of such a character; yet they remarked that the left side of his face grew pale. He then leaned his arm on the table, prayed, and remained motionless, with his eyes closed. The clock struck twelve--no signs of life or motion could be discovered; they spoke to him, and found he was really dead.

The word miracle was echoed through the whole country, and the transmigration of the Pandour Trenck, from earth to heaven, by St.

Francis, proclaimed. The clue to this labyrinth of miracles, known only to me, is truly as follows:- He possessed the secret of what is called the aqua tofana, and had determined on death. His confessor had been entrusted with all his secrets, and with promissory notes, which he wished to invalidate. I am perfectly certain that he had returned a promissory note of a great prince, given for two hundred thousand florins, which has never been brought to account. The confessor, therefore, was to be provided for, that Trenck might not be betrayed, and a dose of poison was given him before he set off for Vienna: his death was the consequence. He took similar means with himself, and thus knew the hour of his exit; finding he could not become the first on earth, he wished to be adored as a saint in heaven. He knew he should work miracles when dead, because he ordered a chapel to be built, willed a perpetual mass, and bequeathed the capuchins sixty thousand florins.

Thus died this most extraordinary man, in the thirty-fourth year of his age, to whom nature had denied none of her gifts; who had been the scourge of Bavaria; the terror of France; and who had, with his supposed contemptible pandours, taken above six thousand Prussian prisoners. He lived a tyrant and enemy of men, and died a sanctified impostor.

Such was the state of affairs, as willed by Trenck, when I came to Vienna, in 1759, where I arrived with money and jewels to the amount of twenty thousand florins.

Instead of profiting by the wealth Trenck had acquired, I expended a hundred and twenty thousand florins of my own money, including what devolved to me from my uncle, his father, in the prosecution of his suits. Trenck had paid two hundred ducats to the tribunal of Vienna, in the year 1743, to procure its very reprehensible silence concerning a curator, to which I was sacrificed, as the new judges of this court refused to correct the error of their predecessors.

Such are the proceedings of courts of justice in Vienna!

On my first audience, no one could be received more kindly than Iwas, by the Empress Queen. She spoke of my deceased cousin with much emotion and esteem, promised me all grace and favour, and informed me of the particular recommendations she had received, on my behalf, from Count Bernes. Finding sixty-three cases hang over my head, in consequence of the inheritance of Trenck, to obtain justice in any one of which in Vienna, would have employed the whole life of an honest man, I determined to renounce this inheritance, and claim only under the will and as the heir of my uncle.

With this view I applied for and obtained a copy of that will, with which I personally appeared, and declared to the court that Irenounced the inheritance of Francis Trenck, would undertake none of his suits, nor be responsible for his legacies, and required only his father's estates, according to the legal will, which I produced;that is to say, the three lordships of Pakratz, Prestowacz, and Pleneritz, without chattels or personal effects. Nothing could be more just or incontrovertible than this claim. What was my astonishment, to be told, in open court, that Her Majesty had declared I must either wholly perform the articles of the will of Trenck, or be excluded the entire inheritance, and have nothing further to hope. What could be done? I ventured to remonstrate, but the will of the court was determined and absolute: I must become a Roman Catholic.

In this extremity I bribed a priest, who gave me a signed attestation, "That I had abjured the accursed heresy of Lutheranism." My religion, however, remained what it had ever been.

General Bernes about this time returned from his embassy, and Irelated to him the lamentable state in which I found my affairs. He spoke to the Empress in my behalf, and she promised everything. He advised me to have patience, to perform all that was required of me, and to make myself responsible for the depending suits. Some family concerns obliged him, as he informed me, to make a journey to Turin, but his return would be speedy: he would then take the management of my affairs upon himself, and insure my good fortune in Austria.

Baron Trenck